Coastal Engineering is proud to have sponsored Latham Centers' Donkey Wedding event which supports their Asinotherapy program.
Asinotherapy is a fancy word for “Donkey Therapy.” The Latham's Centers history with this unorthodox approach to animal therapy began in 2008 when Dr. Janice Forster, a renowned neuro-psychiatrist and expert in Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) treatment, visited with Latham and encouraged them to consider developing an Asinotherapy Program for their students and adult individuals with PWS. A treatment program using miniature donkeys had been developed in Germany and had been extremely successful in helping individuals with developmental disabilities learn important skills, including relationship-building and vocational training. Before the donkeys will allow anyone to work near them, they need to feel safe so the students and adults must first earn their trust. Earning their trust means being gentle, being reliable, and letting the donkeys know that you are there to help them.
In 2009, Latham purchased a residential home in East Sandwich with grounds approved for the boarding of livestock. With Dr. Forster’s guidance, Latham's staff quickly learned that miniature donkeys were ideally suited for interacting with PWS individuals. Temperamentally, they are known for their good nature, they crave attention and are very patient. A gentle, but at times stubborn personality, is commonly recognized between donkeys and individuals with PWS. This mirroring provides many opportunities for learning, nurturing, and building trust and self esteem while teaching empathy, responsibility, and appropriate boundaries.
After Latham staff saw such high rates of success from their adults in the East Sandwich program, two more donkeys were donated to their new transitional residential home in Dennis. This home was also approved for the boarding of livestock, and now both student and adult residents can easily participate in Asinotherapy at Latham Centers. Since 2009, Latham has trained dozens of their staff and adult residents with Prader-Willi Syndrome in the Asinotherapy Program. Staff and students of Latham School are now being introduced to the program for future trainings. As part of the program, individuals are trained to care for and nurture Latham's six resident donkeys — Angus, Moonbeam, Jake, Curly, Esther and Esau. Esther and Esau "got hitched" last weekend, and their wedding has created tremendous excitement among the Latham students and friends in the community. To learn more about the donkeys and the program, please visit the Latham Centers blog.